"I'm just really excited about the prospects of sharing with Ruthven-Ayrshire."
Emmetsburg Superintendent of Schools John Joynt was very upbeat in his discussion with the Emmetsburg School Board on what has become a high-profile topic in the past week in the county. Joynt's remarks were made during the December meeting of the Emmetsburg School Board on Wednesday, Dec. 19.
Joynt opened the discussion on sharing of educational opportunities with the Ruthven-Ayrshire Community Schools by noting that prior to Wednesday's meeting, no formal discussions had taken place between the two districts, just informal letters and conversations between administrators.
However, on Dec. 9, the Ruthven-Ayrshire School Board, along with its Superintendent and Principal, did tour the high school facilities in Emmetsburg.
"As far as whole grade sharing, we have not had any formal board discussions with Ruthven-Ayrshire," Joynt explained. "I did talk to their board president about using a 50 percent sharing money figure, if Ruthven-Ayrshire wanted to send students over. We did thinking we would buy some more laptop computers and books for high school kids, but we don't need any more staffwe have the room for 71 more students that would be in high school from Ruthven-Ayrshire next year."
According to figures supplied by Joynt, Emmetsburg's high school enrollment will be 228 students for next Fall (2013) and even adding the 71 RA students, that there would be plenty of room at the high school. In studying the high school's student population, the highest number of students was in 1978-79, when ninth graders were included into the high school for the first time for a total population of 455.
"We have the capacity for the students," Joynt stated.
Joynt went on to note that looking at class offerings and sizes, High School Principal Fred Matlage had been looking at that data and was already working on adding some sections to certain classes.
"We have room for them in our schedule and we have room in our building, and I think that's a good place to start." Joynt stated. "When I sent information to Ruthven-Ayrshire, I said this was good for us we need more kids in our high school. I don't know what their financial means are, that's something they have to work through. Our concern is for more high school kids."
"I think there's a lot of positives to the prospect of adding more kids into the high school," Joynt continued.
Board member Karla Anderson asked if there would be need to increase staffing with the addition of students. Joynt replied he didn't think so, as class sections could absorb more students fairly easily. "I've had Mr. Matlage looking at it and looking at it, and he doesn't think we'll need to add staff either."
Joynt added that since the district relies on laptop computers for high school students, more units would have to be purchased for the additional students.
Joynt pointed out that Ruthven-Ayrshire was limited by law in terms of being able to whole grade share, or send all of their students for an entire school day because of deadlines. "But, they can do Partial day sharing, and they can do that anytime. We would have to do the scheduling and work with them on that, but then the money we would receive would be reduced."
After reviewing classes offered in the high school with the board, Matlage noted that there were many great opportunities to add more students to classes and offerings such as instrumental and vocal music.
"I see the prospect of getting more kids in the building as a very positive thing. We would be more efficient, there would be more collaborationI see a lot of positives," Joynt reiterated. "Scheduling can be done, transportation can be done its been done all over the state, so I think this is very positive to look at the prospect of a partial day share."
"We have the room. Now it's a paper shuffle paperwork to shuffle to get schedules to work," Matlage added. "We've already started to look at next Fall, college classes for the juniors and seniors as well as looking at taking on these students and getting them what they want and need."
Joynt also mentioned the idea of also talking to Ruthven-Ayrshire about the possibilities of sharing sports.
"We've shared sports in the past. We shared softball, we've shared wrestling with Ruthven-Ayrshire and had some success," Joynt said. "I'm on the same theme that we need more kids in our sports for participation, at all levels. But, that's another issue they would have to address. I think if the kids were in the building, there would be less transportation, so I think we should be open to discuss sharing athletics with them as well."
Currently, Ruthven- Ayrshire is in a six-year athletic sharing agreement with the Graettinger-Terril Community Schools. The athletic sharing agreement contains contract language that requires re-evaluation of that sharing agreement by both parties on a yearly basis.
"Talking with Mr. Carter, (Emmetsburg's Athletic Director) bringing 71 students into the building would move us back into Class 2A in football and wrestling," Joynt noted. "I think the coaches would be all right with that."
"We haven't had any coaches discussions on that," Carter noted, "But we do think it would do a lot for us, program-wise. If you take 60 kids, and say half of each gender participate, that's 15 kids and if you add 15 kids to a program, that's very significant for all of our sports."
Carter went on to point out that if five kids were added to freshmen teams and junior varsity teams and 10 kids to a varsity team, those would be significant additions to those teams and make a big difference. "That is something that would be a big positive for our programs."
"I think everybody's excited about the prospect of sharing and I think there's a consensus that if they want to have more visitations or a joint board meeting, I assume that would be acceptable to all. We're ready to move ahead if they are," Joynt said. "I think its positive on all accounts."
With that, board member Rick Brennan moved to explore opportunities to share with Ruthven-Ayrshire, and board member Kim Campbell offered a second to the motion. Board President BJ Schany called for a vote and received six ayes to pass the motion, with board member Tammy Naig absent and not voting.